World Cup football star Sumner passes away

Steve Sumner
Steve Sumner
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Preston-born World Cup football star Steve Sumner has died.

The New Zealand international passed away at the age of 61, he had been suffering from prostate cancer.

Born in Sharoe Green, he spent his formative years at St Matthew’s Primary School on New Hall Lane, and later went to Brockholes Secondary school.

Despite being on the books of Preston North End and Blackpool as a youngster, Sumner emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 17.

He went on to become a Kiwi footballing great, representing his country 105 times.

At the 1982 World Cup in Spain, he captained his country in games against Brazil, Scotland and the Soviet Union.

Steve Sumner challenges Brazilian great Socrates during the
1982 Word Cup, in Spain

Steve Sumner challenges Brazilian great Socrates during the 1982 Word Cup, in Spain

Based in Malaga for their opening two group games, the All Whites were beaten by Scotland 5-2 in the first match.

Trailing 3-0 at the interval, Sumner pulled a goal back for his country nine minutes after the interval and the Kiwis went on to give the Scots a real fright when Steve Wooddin added a second shortly after.

Unfortunately for the footballing minnows, Scotland were able to go on and win the match comfortably thanks to goals from John Robertson and Steve Archibald.

In the second match, they were well beaten 3-0 by the Soviet Union before losing 4-0 in their final game to a Brazil team containing legendary figures such as Zico, Socrates and Falcao in Sevilla.

Speaking to the Lancashire Post in 2008 - more than 25 years after his World Cup adventure, Sumner said: “To even think of playing Brazil in the World Cup finals was considered the impossible dream for New Zealand, but we had made it,” he said.

“I thought, ‘This is it, the biggest stage in world football’. I had to pinch myself. It was unreal. Unbelievable really.”

Sumner played for five clubs in New Zealand and also enjoyed a short stint playing in Australia for West Adelaide SC.

The majority of his career was spent with Christchurch United.

He won the league title on five occasions and also a record six Chatham Cups - the New Zealand equivalent of the FA Cup,

A faithful servant to the game long after his retirement, Sumner was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for Services to Football in 2016, with the grandstand at English Park in Christchurch renamed ‘The Steve Sumner Stand’ in his honour.

Part one of the big interview with Steve Sumner

Part two of the big interview with Steve Sumner